Friday, February 15, 2019

Finances, Budgets, Savings ~ Our Story


There are generally three personality types when it comes to money.  The spender, the saver, or a combo of both (sometimes with a little extra tilt one way or the other.)  I have always been one to be a saver.  Though I have had my spending moments, which I will get to later in the post.  My hubby?  A saver.  Our kiddos?  A balance between spending, saving, and giving with healthy knowledge on finances.

What about you?  Be honest.  Are you a spender? A saver? Some mix of the two, if so which are you tending to lean more towards?

From the time I was little, most if not all money I received went into a savings account.  That is just my natural tendency.  As I got older, I began to start to diversify my savings.  How so?  I created different funds.

By the time I was halfway through high school I had a car fund, a savings account, a spend.  Why?  Because it all started once I could drive.  Had my first auto repair payment in which my dad paid for after it was done, but then told me I had to pay him back for half the repair costs.  Okay, no biggie, until I realized my next paycheck went to my dad.  And I had an old car.  How often it would need fixing was yet to be seen.  So I started a car fund.  Part of each paycheck went into a different savings account.  Then, when the next car repair came around, I just gave my dad cash right away for it.  And I still had money in my savings account, plus my next paycheck was coming up and it wasn't going straight to my dad.

You notice how I said when the next car repair came around?  I said when, not if, because it is only a matter of time before expenses come back around.

I kept that going for awhile until I got engaged.  Well, not being one to much a spender as it was and I knew I had some time before we set a wedding date (we were in college and were going to wait until we graduated).  I began a wedding fund.  And at the time, my future hubby did the same.  When the time came, we paid any of our wedding costs we were in charge of in cash.

After we got married, we kept the car fund going to cover maintenace and car insurance.  The wedding fund, well that went away once all the wedding expenses were taken care of.

Move down the road a little bit and now we have: a vacation fund, a gift fund, savings, emergency fund, a savings for each kid (not including their own chore money and banks), house fund, along with regular checking and savings accounts (both joint and separate), 401k, retirement investments, and so on.

If you know me, you know I am a stay at home mom.  But something we decided upon when we first got married was having a checkly allowance.  Each paycheck we get a predetermined amount of money.  That becomes our own blow money.  For me, I tend to split it out into different funds based on where I have expenses that are based of my own wants.

I know, this sounds like a lot.  And you may think just using a credit card is easier.  Or we are a one income family, we have to use credit cards.  Or that all seems really difficult to set up. Or everyone has debt.  Or you can't be debt free or working towards debt free on one income or when you have a family.  And the list of thoughts and excuses goes on and on.

We have never really been much to use a credit card, but yes, in the past we have used one.  Notice I said one? not them?  We have and had only one ever.  We never racked up a high amount, we never carried over a balance.  Now, if it gets used, we already know we have the cash flow to pay it off (i.e. when we did the kitchen remodel, all went on the credit card, but got paid off right away).

We have our set funds and they get pulled automatically right after pay day to those funds.  Setting it up on auto means it gets done, stays consistent, and the money is specifically designated going forward.

We don't have credit card debt and never have.  This is a path we are planning on continuing.  Because we have things set up in place and are building on them, we know we have our emergency fund ready, as well as some savings.

As for debt?  We had my student loan when we got married, but we paid that off as quickly as we could.  We put any extra money we got from birthdays and holidays at it to pay it down and get it gone...13 years ago.  That just leaves our mortgage.

In all honesty, we are in the spot we are in because how we set things up.  We don't do things the normal way.  And have even gotten questioned, like why are you paying your student loan off so quick or how do you do it, and everything in between.

It's become common to carry loads of debt, to use a credit card instead of planning and waiting when needed, and to put way to much focus on credit scores.

But you know what?  It is possible to be debt free or mostly debt free aside from your house.  It is possible to live on one paycheck.  It is possible to use cash to pay and not use credit cards.  It is possible to plan, prepare, budget, and save too.

Start setting yourself up now to be at a point where you really want to be down the road.  Will it get uncomfortable?  Yup.  Will you have to give up some of your wants or at the very least delay them?  Of course.

What would be better...to be in control of your finances, have more financial freedom, and less money stress?  Or debt in the thousands, stressing more, letting your expense go beyond your income?

You can do this, but you have to start, you have to set up a plan, you have to stick to it.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Let Your Kids Be Creative & Let Yourself Too

I have always enjoyed being creative.  Doing my own thing, recreating an idea I saw, or taking an idea and putting my own spin on it.

Awhile back my hubby gave me Joanne Miller's (new at the time) book, "Be Your Finest Art: Awaken Your Creative Self".  She co authored it with Dorsey McHugh.  You can be creative in anything you do.   It is all how you look at it.  Before reading it, I didn't see myself as creative.  But after reading it and seeing a different perspective on what creative is, I found myself to more creative than I realized it and more recently have found that I thrive on my creativeness.

When you think of creative what comes to mind?

Being creative can come in any form.  Decorating your house...creative.  Journaling your thoughts, gratitude, etc...creative.  Doodling...creative.  Hairstylist...creative.  Landscaper....creative.

Hopefully you get the picture.  If you frame up what you do differently and with a perspective of I am being creative when I (fill in the blank), we are creative in some way.  And that is what this books gets at.  You can be just as creative as the next person, even when the task you are doing or the job you are doing doesn't seem creative.

Laundry seems mundane, but you can take a different perspective and find creativity in it while you fold or put it away.

Like I said, I love to be creative.  When I was a teacher, the art projects were my favorite time and reading stories.  How does reading stories get creative?  By adding voices to each of the characters.  Just sitting down at the end of the day waiting for pick up time, sitting next to the kids in my room creating pictures, seeing them grow and change over the course of the year was a great way to connect while letting the creative side flow.

When I had my first son I continued some things from my teaching, but didn't see the creative side in myself as much.  I would do monthly hand print and foot print art projects with him.  Yup, I started that at about three months old with him.  Then when I was reading books to him, I would get creative with different voices.

Today...he loves books and loves art. His creative side is translating into legos and play as well.

My youngest is getting into art type projects, but not as much as my oldest.  He loves books as well, but his creative side comes out more in play and imagination.

But really, creative can come in many forms and ways.  Part of the reason for choosing the home school route was because of how creative my oldest is.  Not only is he creative in his play, imagination, art, but also in his questions.  His mind is constantly going, constantly creating.  So by homeschooling, we can allow that to grow, not get squashed or diminished.

We all had the creative side in us, but as we got older, for most that got pushed away.

Over the past 6 years, I have been bringing back my creative side and creative perspective.  I picked back up the "Be Your Finest Art" and am re-reading it.  I have added in space on planner for the week for creative time, which also includes writing more.

Letting your kids be creative opens them up.  It allows them to be themselves, be free, follow their natural flow and rhythm.  We are leaving space for creative sides, creativeness to flow each day.  It may show up as an art project, or it may be through play, or through some way I never thought of.

But here's the thing.  That creativeness can be carried over in all areas, even the ones that you may not think of.

And even if you are an adult, you can still bring back that creative side.  Because just like with kids, it allows you to be you, to be free, to follow your natural rhythm and flow.

How do you see yourself as creative?

What job or task do you do that you can add a creative perspective to it?

If you have kids, how can you let them be creative and keep that flowing as the grow?

Like in the book it says "everyone is creative, though not everyone is an artist."

When you and your kids engage your right brain, it enables an improvement on physical and emotional health, creates stronger relations, all while opening new pathways of learning.

Art comes in many forms.  Play, arrange flowers, serve meals in colorful dishes, teach with pizzazz (we are all teachers no matter what age we are or what profession we are in), see where your imagination takes you.

Rediscover the joy of childhood, relearn to play, reclaim your authenticity.  And let your kids do the same.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Making Working Out Fun


Is your work out fun? 

If it is, that is awesome!  I would love to hear what works for you and what you like to do for your workout.

If not, let's take a moment to change it up and make it fun, as well as something to look forward to.

I personally go in waves.  I find something I like and I go with it for awhile.  But then I get in a rut and need to change it up.  I have found if I change it up every so often it keeps me motivated and interested.  And with time and trying different things I can combine ideas to create my own workout.

There are workout styles I can do, but aren't ones that I enjoy, or want to do often, or just don't like but may still push through for a bit.  But there are combos, styles, and moves that I love and actually look forward to.  So I pick the things that bring me the most energy and joy, are fun and I look forward to.

Sure I can HIIT, interval training, and anywhere in between to get moving.  But what I have found that I love the most and makes it the most fun is dancing for my cardio as many days in the week as I can.  Nothing beats putting the headphones on, turning on country music (hey, it's better than kid songs that I normally listen to most of the day), and just dancing around the house to the beat, the music, the words.  I figure if I can get through 4 songs, it's a great energize and gets my heart rate going.  Most of the time I go longer than that because it is so much fun.

I then use certain days to focus on certain on certain areas, like a: leg day, a core/back day, arms, and stretching/flexibility.  I also add in tools: weights, twist/balance board, bands.  I love to add in challenges.  I just finished a 30 day 100 squats a day challenge and I am a week into 30 day plank challenge. 

In finding what motivates me, keeping it fresh, fun, and exciting.  Take time to find an accountability buddy or group.  It helps you make it through those tough days, the days you want to skip, and can bring inspiration too.

I have found too that time of day working out matters, at least for me.  Sure, I can workout first thing in the morning (for a few weeks) or later in the evening.  But I find the best that works for me and my flow is later morning or early afternoon.  I have more energy, can get into, and really put forth my best effort.  I get more out of it then.

How do I make working out fun?

By dancing, by strengthening, by doing challenges.  On the days I don't feel like working out or have as much time or the location just isn't great, I go back to one of my challenge videos.  I figure, hey it's at least 5 minutes, I can knock this out.  Sometimes it leads to more of a workout and sometimes I leave it at that.

What makes working out fun for you?

*Photo Credit:  Google Search for Don't dance like no one is watching, dance like a toddler*


Wednesday, February 6, 2019


Today we are just a handful of days into February, and as I sit here I am realizing I need a little bit of a reset.  A reset to get back into my natural flow, to let go, to open back up, balance out my energies and energy boosters, release my energy zappers.

So here goes for some of it.

My February word is calm.  On the outside and just inside, it hasn't felt much calm.  Today I am digging in deeper.  Listening to my heart, listening to my body, listening to my spirit.  Today I am going back to the routines, the rituals that I set up at the start of January that helped me feel grounded, helped me stay in my natural flow & rhythm.  The ones I was just getting into, then went on a trip that we had planned but much more unexpected came from to being stuck at home inside due to extreme cold weather and got February, now just realizing that all had been set aside.

Now it is time to pick it back up again.  It has been a rough Monday.  Not because it is Monday, but because after so many days of things just being plain off taken it's toll and holding on for too long.  I realized today that I am letting others emotions, behaviors, actions get attached to my own instead of separating them.  Instead of letting theirs be theirs, mine be mine, I am combining them all.  Feeling the load on my shoulders beginning to weigh me down. 

Instead of balancing things out, I am letting them get skewed too far in one direction.  But now, even as I sit here and type I am beginning to feel a weight lifted, something release.

I am watching the snow slowly float to the ground.  Twisting, turning, spinning....moving slow, fast.  It is like our lives.  Each snowflake is unique on it's own.  Just like we are.  I feel a change coming on.  A reset, a release. 

Where it will lead, I am not sure yet.  But I am ready.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Marriage Monday ~ Make Your Marriage A Priority


Do you remember when you first starting dating your spouse?  You know, back when you were talking to get to know each other, having date nights, flirting, PDAs (you know, a public display of affection here and there, like a hug or kiss, hand holding), and so on...

How did you meet?  What was your favorite date?  How did you know they were the one you wanted to marry?

When you were dating and things became serious, leading to marriage you put your marriage as a priority I am guessing.

After a few years, did you keep flirting?  Did you keep any or all of the actions you did while dating, or did they fade away?

Now let's do this.  Add in a kid...and another.  Growing your family changes your marriage dynamic doesn't it?

Things get set on the back burner, balance gets shifted, things get lost or forgotten about.  Priorities are ever changing.

Stop for a moment.  Where is your marriage at?  I mean really think about it.  Have you set it on the back burner letting other people, things, etc become a priority?

Life is about balancing and making things a priority.  When it becomes a priority, we make space for it.  So do you still have space for your marriage?  If you do, what do you do to keep your marriage a priority, to deepen your connection, to build intimacy, to keep those flirty dating feelings going?

If you don't have space, then it is time to make it a priority, give it the space it deserves.

I had fallen into this.  Lost some of the sparkle, the feels, the connection.  I had a hard time rearranging things as we added kiddos.  I also had a hard time of letting go of control, when and where needed.  This, as well as a few other things led me to place my marriage on to the back burner....for awhile.

It took me realizing a change needed to happen...a change in me, my perspective, my knowledge.  I needed to let go, to trust, to grow, to change...and a whole lot of communicating. I have faith, I have trust in God, and I look to His word for grounding.  If you haven't before, take a look at what the bible says about marriage.  Also, take a moment to read all of I Corinthians verse 7.  It is more than just "the love verse" usually used at weddings.

It is not wrong to put priority on your marriage.  In fact, when it comes down to it, it is a necessity.  Yes, certain things may need to switch spots at times and take precedence, but don't leave your marriage on the side for too long.

Find a way to bring back that little spark each day.  Find something you can add in, bring back, giving your marriage more space, more presence in the day.  Just a few extra minutes here and there, keeping it simple.  And then as often as you can, take a longer amount of time to invest into your marriage, like a date night (in or out) or intimacy or snuggling on the couch or talking.  Have fun with it.

What can you do to start making your marriage a priority? 

What do you do now to make it a priority?

Friday, February 1, 2019

Back to Basics ~ Finances & Budgets


I made an early post about budgeting for Christmas and said I would come back to the topic of money.  I may have done this a little backwards.  I probably should have done an intro type post and then the Christmas budget one, but the timing of the year is what pushed me to write about it and share it sooner, rather than later.

So let's go back to basics.  We have money coming and going in our households.  Pay day comes, expenses go out throughout the month, and then the next month comes and it is the same thing.  Even kids can be making an income and have expenses (chores anyone? allowances?)

Put in it's most simplest form, expenses going out shouldn't exceed income coming in.  Sure, yes there are pop up, unexpected, sometimes one time expenses.  But that is what your emergency fund is for.  But we will get to that in another post.

For now, let's stick with the expenses shouldn't exceed income.  I want you to take a moment and list out all your expenses.  I mean it.  Take a moment to list them all out, what they are and what they cost.  The daily, the weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, yearly.  List them all!  Make a separate list for the daily coffee, lunches out, dinner out, the expenses that are more about wants rather than needs.

Once you have your list of expenses and cost for each, total them all up.  Take a moment to compare it to the income coming in.  What do you see?  Are your expenses total less than your total income?  Are they more?  Or do you come out right around even?

What happens if you add in those miscellaneous expenses that are more about fulfilling wants (like the daily coffee shop type of expenses)?  Now how do things look?

At this point, I am hoping you are getting a more detailed picture and understanding.  You may even be able to see why people fall into using credit cards and even have a carry over balance from month to month.

Are you living pay check to pay check?

These are just some things I encourage you to think about.

It is possible to live without a credit card.  It is possible to not live pay check to pay check.  It is possible to be debt free or virtually debt free as you work toward debt free.  And it can all be a good thing, freeing.

But it all starts with knowing your finances and setting up a budget plan.  Knowing your income, knowing your expenses, knowing how to get out of debt, knowing how to save.  Knowing where to start.

If you are looking for a resource, Dave Ramsey is a great resource.  He has been through it all.  From making money, to filing bankruptcy, to coming out of it and living debt free.  His books, his podcast, his website, his courses, his life all are a great guide.

We have utilized most of Dave's resources and methods.  When we haven't used a piece it is because we needed to tweak it a little to fit the way our income comes in verses the way our expenses go out.  But in the end, we still aim for a $0 budget plan.  We have monthly calendars that list out all the expenses for that month.  Than we do a bi-weekly budget sheet based on the income that comes in from pay day until the day before the next pay day and the expenses that are going out during that time.  For us, this set up works best and we can keep track better.

I will keep sharing more about our story, how we handle budgets, and the money side of things in posts to come.

For now, just take some time to sit down and truly look at your finances.  Make some decisions about where you want to go, where you want to be.  List out your income and your expenses.  List out the wants, dreams, etc. as well.  Then just take it all in.

Next time around, I will share our story.  Then after that I will get more into the mindful money side of it all.

What would it be like for you to be sitting on your couch, this time next year, and knowing you are debt free or have less debt, not living pay check to pay check and not stressing out or arguing as much about finances?  What would that truly mean to you, for you?